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How to Dye Heavy Drapes

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Color fashions come in and go out very quickly — especially where home fashions are concerned. The fabric itself may be just fine. Drapes are not immune to the whims of fashion. Heavy drapes are typically expensive and more difficult to replace when fashions change. Cotton and other fabrics, however, do not go out of style simply because of the composition of the material. The best way to keep your heavy drapes around longer is to dye the fabric yourself, in your own home, without buying special equipment to get the job done.

Things You'll Need:

  • Powdered Fabric Dye
  • Washing Machine
  • Bleach

Add hot water to a washing machine basket until there is enough water for the drapes to move freely and easily. Add powdered fabric dye to 2 cups of hot water and mix the dye solution until the dye is dissolved completely. The amount of dye varies by the heaviness of the fabric. Dissolve one 1 1/8-oz. package of dye for every ¾ lb. of fabric to be dyed. Add the dye solution to the hot water in the washing machine.

Soak the drapes in hot water. Smooth the fabric out before placing it into the hot-water dye solution so all of the fabric has equal exposure to the dye.

Set the washing machine for the longest wash cycle. Allow the cycle to finish and reset the washing machine for a second run, using the longest wash cycle. The drapes have to be exposed to the dye solution for at least 30 minutes for best results.

Allow the washing machine to complete the rinse cycle after the second wash cycle. Repeat the rinse cycle until the rinse water comes out clear and dye-free.

Dry the fabric according to the fabric care instructions. Dyed fabric can either hang or tumble dry.

Fill the washing machine with hot water to the highest washing level achieved during the dyeing cycles. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach to the water and allow the washing machine to complete another long wash cycle to remove residual fabric dye. Stained plastic and rubber parts will be permanently stained, but the stain will not bleed into other fabrics.


Fabrics that accept dye easily include 100 percent cotton, linen, silk, wool, ramie, rayon, nylon and acetate, or fiber blends with at least 60 percent of the fabric makeup being one of these fibers.

If the fabric is at least 50 percent polyester, acrylic or fiberglass, or if the fabric has a rubber backing, the fabric will not accept dye readily.

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